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Snapchat for Business: A Guide for Beginners

If you didn’t already know, Snapchat is social media platform which allows users to send time-limited images (‘snaps’) to other users. Unlike most social networking platforms, Snapchat is entirely mobile app based, so your smartphone will become a vital tool if you want to use Snapchat for business.

Bite the bullet - it may be time for Snapchat

Snapchat has 300+ million monthly users, 60% of which are aged between 18-34, so consider your target audience before committing to the platform. If your target market is outside this niche Generation Z / Millennial group, you may be better off spending your time on other platforms.

Of the businesses that use social media to market themselves, most use Facebook, but only 2% use Snapchat, so you have a real chance to shine on Snapchat thanks to the lack of competition.

Fun fact: It would take you 10 years to view all the photos shared on Snapchat in the last hour.

Also, unlike other social networks, it doesn’t matter when you post content on Snapchat. Your snaps will never be buried in a busy timeline; they stay unopened until your followers have time to view them.

Eat, Sleep, Snap, Repeat

If you want to be a Snapchat success, you’ll need to develop content specifically for Snapchat. You can recycle content from other social networks, but make sure it’s tailored to Snapchat, and the younger audience you’re therefore targeting. Here’s some ideas for content to get you started:

  • Celebrate milestones: Share moments that show personality, and the unique elements that make your business stand out. For example, when your business has achieved something exciting, completed a major project, achieved a new milestone, or had success at an event.
  • Tutorials: Create short instructional videos that relate to your product or service. For example, showing how to squat jump, or how to make a proper cup of tea, but bear in mind your time is limited!
  • Behind the scenes: Use Snapchat in daily work life, and give users a peek behind the scenes at your company. Show them how your product is made, share the inspiration and ethos behind your company, or chat with employees.
  • Show your product in action: For example, show someone wearing your t-shirt, or eating your food. You could even ask your followers for pictures or videos of them using your product, and share snaps featuring them. Sharing fans’ snaps will make them feel valued, and your audience will discover new ways they can use your product.
  • Provide exclusive content / VIP access: When followers get sneak peeks or insider views into your brand that non-followers don’t get access to, they feel special. This might come in the form of unveiling a new product before it hits the shelves, or going behind the scenes at a big event.

Remember, no social feed should be 100% self-promotion, so mix it up with interesting stories that relate to your industry.

Case Study: NASA’s 100,000th orbit Snapchat Story

In 2016 the International Space Station completed its 100,000th orbit around earth and to celebrate, NASA partnered with Snapchat to create a Live Story documenting a day in space.

For 24 hours, Snapchat users could experience what life on board the ISS is like through the eyes of its occupants. The Story featured some breathtaking views of earth, fun videos showing how everyday tasks are carried out in zero gravity, and interesting facts about the ISS.

Key Takeaway: This is a great example that shows how a government organization or a non-profit can use Snapchat to “sell” their values and the work they do for the public good. Keeping things fun, personable and informative will be your bread and butter.

Make it snappy

Now that you’ve decided what you’ll be posting, think about how you can present it in a creative way. Snapchat allows users to draw and/or write on their images, as well as ad emojis and filters, so try using these features to add humour or something that catches the viewer’s eyes.

Don’t over-polish your photos and videos; Snapchat users appreciate content that is raw and unscripted. While on other social platforms, businesses are spending major dollar on video marketing, remember that Snapchat is different.

While you may want to plan out what you want to do or say in your video, don’t stress over making it perfect, Snapchat users expect amateur content they can relate to.

Top Tip: The average Generation Z-er has the attention span of about eight seconds, so keep it short and snappy!

Amazon used Snapchat to demo a cutting-edge product, and show personality at the same time.

Build a Following

The challenge in building an audience on Snapchat is that the platform has no hashtags, search, or any other means of traditional content discovery. You can create a following by letting people know you’re on Snapchat and giving them a compelling reason to follow you.

Holding Snapchat-only contests or giveaways is a great way to get followers to spread the word about your brand for you. Make sure the prizes are awesome, and the contest entry rules simple. You could simply ask followers to snap a photo of them using your product.

Also, sharing your snapcode on your other social profiles makes it easy for fans to add you (to find your snapcode, open Snapchat, and it's above your name).

Break the ice, be social

Social media should be social, not a constant stream of promotions. It isn’t practical or scalable replying to every single snap you receive but replying now and again is a great way to show appreciation of your followers.

Consider following people back on Snapchat. When they send you snaps, read them and reply if appropriate. This goes a long way towards letting users know you’re a real person or a real social team behind a brand.

Tell a story

Stories are individual compilations of user content (similar to Facebook or Insta stories), which expire 24 hours after each video or photo is added. There is no limit to the number of snaps in a story, but you need at least one photo or video to compile a story.

You're able to see which and how many users view your story, so you can see how engaging your content is.

There are also Live Stories, which allows users who are at the same event or a specific location to contribute snaps to the same community narrative.

Case Study: Cisco’s “Day in the Life of an Account Manager” Snapchat Story

On the surface it may seem that Cisco, an IT & networking company, might not seem like a good match for Snapchat. Its products – routers, modems and other networking hardware – don’t inspire much excitement. By following the day to day tasks of an Account Manager, Cisco gained the interest of their tech-savvy audience, as well as humanising their brand. 

The key takeaway from Cisco’s Snapchat campaign is that even the most “boring” brands can create content that’s fun, engaging and interesting by focusing on the people side of business.

Advertise on Snapchat

There are three main way to advertise on Snapchat: Snap ads, sponsored geofilters and sponsored lenses.

Snap ads are 10-second, full-screen, vertical videos and can offer some type of interactive element, such as a call to action to visit a specific link. Two-thirds of all ads include audio, which play automatically with the sound on. The short clip should provide information about your company and what its products and/or services are.

Sponsored geofilters allow users to send Snaps with a unique filter from specific locations. The lenses can cover one business, like a coffee shop or event centre. A geofilter can be also applied nationwide under a certain theme or holiday, and many brands utilize geofilters to promote events.

Sponsored lenses are more interactive than geofilters. Filters are applied after a video or picture is taken, prior to sending or adding to their story. Lenses have special facial recognition technology, which allows users to become dogs, pretend to be Santa Claus, turn into demons, wear flower crowns and even puke rainbows. While Snapchat lenses that turn you into a superhero or an animal are fun for users, they also pack a punch when it comes to marketing your brand.

Case Study: Gatorade - Super Bowl Dunk Filter

In 2016, Gatorade created a particularly eye-catching sponsored lens. In the NFL it’s customary for the winning team to soak their coach’s head with whatever they can find in the cooler after the game (Colloquially known as the Gatorade shower or Gatorade dunk).

Gatorade’s lens allowed Snapchat’s selfie-lovers to capture themselves getting showered with the sports drink. By the end of the day the lens had been viewed over 100 million times. 

There are many ways to use Snapchat for your business, to inform, educate, engage, appeal or all of the above. The fast-paced nature of the platform makes for a refreshing new type of engagement with your audience, and can help make your business appear more human. It can take a little getting used to but with some practice, Snapchat can be used to effectively boost your brand!